No Place Like Home
Text by Chauntelle Trinh
Photographs courtesy of Michelberger Hotel
Band Of Horses – On My Way Back Home
Infinite Arms (2010)
The eponymous Michelberger Hotel celebrated its first birthday in August this year. Already a local institution in Berlin, the hotel and its unique crew reflect the city’s distinct creative spirit by offering a novel approach to the business of accommodation whilst continuing to experiment with fresh ideas.
Situated between the lively districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, just a stone’s throw away from the last remaining remnant of the Wall, Michelberger Hotel is creating new stories out of old and forgotten ones. It is a contemporary hotel that looks more like a flea market. The lobby feels like a living room, with its large comfy sofas and assortment of used books. It is spacious enough to give personal freedom and cosy enough for visitors to never want to leave. The do-it-yourself vintage features are intentional, but not at all contrived. The atmosphere is comfortable, quirky and unpretentious. It is hard to tell the guests apart from the staff, as they all seem so relaxed and friendly.
The creators pride themselves on the unfinished appearance of the place, which is symbolic of their regard towards change and evolution, and their desire to be continuously ‘under construction’. We ask Tom Michelberger, the man behind the hotel, to share his thoughts on the journey so far.
It was intended that guests at Michelberger Hotel should feel like they were putting up at a friend’s place. Tell us about some of the most interesting homes you have visited?
Just last week we travelled through northern Italy resting in a small mountain village for lunch. We joined a couple of old South Tirol peasants at their table. Old and single. Without a wife all their lives. They lived on a mountain with people still almost cut off from the outer world.
After a couple of glasses of red wine, we offered to take him back to his home, which was a couple of kilometres away. Arriving there was a highly emotional experience. He told us his sad but at the same time happy life story as we drank his self-made Schnaps. His home was a small ancient chalet given to him as a 22-year-old by his grandfather, who rejected his daughter and him for a long time, since he was an out-of-marriage baby. The old man was a brutal man, but after his mother died giving birth to him, the grandfather felt guilty and gave him this shed.
That was 55 years ago. And everything from the pictures on the wall to the bed has the same age. He doesn’t understand why he never found a woman that liked him. He lived his life, had three quality cows that made his living, and only allowed nice people to visit him. Before we left he told us, that there is only one thing in his life that he regrets, or a wish, “I wish I would have at least one illegitimate child.”
Read more in N˚2: Constant.